“Actors never used to do publicity or award shows – it was uncool.”
You’ve played the quintessentially wholesome dad character so many times. Oﬀscreen, what kind of parent do you think you are? I do my best. Truth be told, I [think parents] all feel like we don’t do enough, that we’re not perfect. I just did a movie called The Intruder, where you think I am The Parent Trap dad for the ﬁrst 20 minutes, but then I go psycho. So… parents, please do not take your kids to The Intruder! You’ll ruin my career.
And you played Lindsay Lohan’s, well, dad, in a 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. What was it like working with her as a pre-teen? [She was] the most
talented 11-year-old I’ve ever seen. She had me believing there were two girls [playing her characters, twins Annie and Hallie]. She’d never been to England, but she went into this English accent that was so ﬂawless, it was amazing. I haven’t seen or talked to her in many years, but I wish her well.
I think there’s a comeback there for her.
Natasha Richardson, who played your wife in that movie, died after a skiing accident in 2009. You were quite close, weren’t you? I was just heartbroken. I was heartbroken for her kids and for Liam [Neeson], her husband. What a tragedy. She was one of the most beautiful human beings I ever worked with. I was lucky to know her.
You starred with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in 1990’s Postcards From The Edge, which was based on Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiographical novel about her relationship with her mum Debbie Reynolds. What do you remember of that shoot? It was a very different time, sort of like the inmates had taken over the asylum, back then. It was exciting, a golden age where actors didn’t do publicity – that was uncool. You did not go to award shows – that was uncool. You had mystery. Now with social media, that’s pretty much impossible. Speaking of the ’90s, you and Meg Ryan were married for nine years,
almost the entirety of that decade. Was it hard to shake oﬀ the public’s overbearing interest in you as a couple? It is not so constant and overbearing anymore [because] they have moved on to the younger ones. So I’m quite ﬁne.
In your new ﬁlm A Dog’s Journey, your character shares a very special bond with his canine. So it has to be asked: are you a dog person, or would you ’fess up to being a cat lover, too?
I’m not a cat hater; I just never really had them. I’ve always been a dog person. In fact, I’ve got my dog Peaches right here. She’s a miniature English bulldog, and my constant companion.
You are often very candid about getting sober. Why do you think it’s important to discuss this openly?
It was about cocaine, 30 years ago. It’s a thing that I got through, and I wouldn’t change it, looking back. I was addicted to it, and you know everybody has problems, [so] it’s important to open up about it once you’ve been through it – for other people.
Wikipedia claims that you studied Mandarin and dance in high school. True or false? That’s bullsh*t! I don’t know a word of Mandarin. But ballet, I did. I took about ﬁve classes because of boxing. And it helped. A Dog’s Journey is in cinemas from Thursday, August 15.
“Addiction is a thing I got through – and I wouldn’t change it”